Road Trip from Barcelona to Valencia
It’s easy to fly directly to Barcelona or Valencia. However, if you want to explore the smaller villages and vineyards amid the countryside, there’s nothing better than setting off on a road trip. Barcelona is the perfect starting point for a coastal ride along the Balearic Sea. The Catalan capital is renowned for its beaches and striking architecture, with rows of buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí. From here, you can easily drive to Valencia, home to dazzling monuments and seafood restaurants where paella is the star of the menu.
The ride itself takes less than four hours, but you can extend your trip with a few stops in between, jumping off at the charming port city of Tarragona or the hilltop towns of Castellón. If you’re planning a road trip from Barcelona to Valencia, this itinerary features some of the best highlights along the way. We’ve also included some hotel suggestions, in case you decide to spend the night somewhere.
Road Trip Duration
The drive from Barcelona to Valencia is 350 km. If you travel directly between cities, the journey will usually take around 3h40 min, depending on the traffic. Of course, if you’re planning to do some sightseeing, you can spend as many days as you want on the road. Our suggestion is to save at least a week for a road trip, stopping to explore the provinces of Tarragona and Castellón.
Settle down in Barcelona for a couple of days of sightseeing. The
Sagrada Família and the Parc Güell should be on top of the list, along
with all the other iconic buildings designed by Gaudí. The Gothic
Quarter and the city’s lively food markets also deserve a visit. Beyond
the infamous Boqueria, it’s worth checking other markets, such as Santa
Caterina or Sant Antoni.
If you’re around for the summer, make sure to stop by the beach for a refreshing swim. Close to the waterfront is the cable car leading up to the Montjuïc hill, which boasts incredible views over the city. For a full itinerary of things to do, make sure to read our Barcelona guide.
Places to visit near Barcelona
- La Colònia Güell: Designed by Gaudí, this museum complex is located on the outskirts of Barcelona. It was one of the artist’s last commissions for his patron Eusebi Güell, hence the name. From the wavy benches to the angular columns and the stained-glass windows, everywhere you look, there’s a trace of Gaudí.
- Montserrat: A few miles from Barcelona is the Montserrat
mountain. Most people head here to see the Abbey of Montserrat, an
11th-century Benedictine monastery nestled amid the rocks. Other
attractions include the funicular and the Santa Cova. The area is also
an ideal spot for hiking, with many trails crossing through the ravines.
In between the mountains of the Parc Natural del Garraf and the sea, is
the charming coastal town of Sitges. Located 40 minutes away from
Barcelona, it’s famous for its beaches and lively nightlife scene. It
gets especially busy during the Carnival season, which attracts visitors
from all over Spain.
Where to stay in Barcelona
- Yurbban Passage Hotel & Spa (4 stars): This boutique hotel occupies a former textile factory near the Parc de la Ciutadella. The central location is perfect for exploring some of the city's main sights. It features a spa, a gym, a restaurant and a rooftop pool ideal for those warm summer evenings.
Once the site of a Roman colony, Tarragona has been a Unesco World Heritage city since 2000. Visitors are drawn by its collection of ancient ruins, as well as the sandy beaches. Overlooking the sea is a magnificent theatre dating back to the 2nd century. Roman relics are also on display in many of the city’s museums.
Wandering through the medieval centre, you can’t help spotting the
cathedral with its Romanesque and Gothic features. For the best city
views, don’t miss a walk along the Passeig Arqueològic, a trail that
follows the old city walls.
Tarragona is also a renowned Spanish
wine region. As a result, you’ll find many wineries located on the
city’s outskirts. The area produces a variety of wine styles, from
fortified wines like Moscatel to the sparkling Cava.
Places to visit near Tarragona:
- Roc de Sant Gaietà: This small seaside village is the ideal spot
for a beach break on the way to Tarragona. Beyond the coastal setting,
Roc de Sant Gaietà also has some stunning architectural gems. Don't miss
the Patio Andaluz, a small courtyard with mosaic-covered walls or the
Puerta Mora, a Mudéjar-style gate.
- Castell de Tamarit: This castle stands on a promontory jutting
out into the Mediterranean sea. It's one of the earliest examples of
Romanesque architecture within the Tarragona province. The castle's
idyllic setting by the beach has turned it into a popular wedding
- Salou: Just a few miles from the centre of Tarragona, you’ll find
Salou. This famous resort town features a variety of beaches, from tiny
coves to vast sandy stretches. Visitors should follow the Camí de
Ronda, a coastal path that offers stunning sunset views. The town is
also home to PortAventura, one of the most visited theme parks in Spain.
- Reus: A bit further inland is Reus, the birthplace of Antoni
Gaudí. Art lovers can follow a route that starts in the artist's former
house and ends at the Gaudí Centre. The town is also home to several
historical attractions, including the 16th-century church, Prioral de
Sant Pere, and Modernist buildings like the Casa Navàs.
- Santes Creus Monastery: You'll find this Cistercian monastery a
few miles north of Tarragona. Its construction began in the 12th century
and stretched until the 18th century. Surrounded by vineyards and olive
trees, the building stands out with its stunning Gothic and Romanesque
- Monasterio de Santa María de Poblet: Also part of the Cistercian
route is the Poblet Abbey. Sitting amid the Prades Mountains, this
Unesco site is still home to a few monks. While it was established
around the 12th century, most of what you see today is from the 14th
- Cartoixa d'Escaladei: Established in 1194 this monastery belonged
to the Order of Saint Bruno and was the first of its kind in the
Iberian Peninsula. Visitors can walk through the large complex, which
features the remains of the church and its cloisters.
- Miravet: Set along the margins of the River Ebre, Miravet offers a
picturesque setting with its pastel-coloured houses and hilltop castle.
Once occupied by the Moors, the town was rebuilt by the Knights
Templar, who arrived in 1153. After visiting the castle, it’s worth
crossing the river in one of the traditional boats known as pas de
- Tortosa: This riverside town is full of historical sights.
Standing above a hill is La Suda, an Arab castle that was converted into
a hotel. Noteworthy attractions include the town’s cathedral and the
Episcopal Palace. Both of these buildings date back to the 14th century.
Further out, you can explore the Ebro Delta Natural Park, a large
nature reserve with a diverse landscape home to many bird species like
flamingos and herons.
Where to stay in Tarragona
- Parador de Tortosa (4 stars): Dating back to the 10th century, the town’s castle has transformed into a charming boutique hotel. Many of the rooms offer four-poster beds and balconies with river views. Other facilities include a restaurant and an outdoor pool, all enclosed by the medieval stone walls.
From Tarragona, drive south until you enter the province of Castellón. Castellón de la Plana is the region’s capital. This medieval city has a mix of ancient and modern buildings. The first thing you’ll notice is the Cathedral and its bell tower rising amid the streets.
Other highlights include the Fine Arts Museum with its modernist structure. Inside you’ll find a vast collection of Valencian ceramics, along with archaeological items ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. Closer to the coast, you can head to the beach or hop on a boat for a hike in the Columbretes Islands.
Places to visit near Castellón de la Plana:
- Peñíscola: The coastal town of Peñiscola is renowned for its
beaches and historical sites. Visitors can marvel at the 13th-century
castle located on the edge of the Mediterranean sea. Peñiscola has also
served as a backdrop for many films and series like Game of Thrones.
Nearby you can hike through the Sierra de Irta nature reserve, enjoying
the sea views along the way.
- Morella: This fortified town is among the prettiest villages in
Spain. Within its ancient walls, you’ll find a cluster of whitewashed
houses and Gothic churches. For the best views, don’t miss a visit to
the town’s castle.
- Vilafamés: Another small village worth visiting is Vilafamés. You
can get lost in the old town, wandering through narrow streets and
capturing the stone buildings. Some of the top attractions include the
medieval castle and its walls, the Església de l'Assumpció and the Roca
Grossa, a large rock connected to many local legends.
- Coves de Sant Josep: Enter the Coves of Sant Josep and enjoy a
magical boat ride through one of Europe's longest navigable underground
rivers. The 45-minute tour also includes a small section on foot. Along
the way, you can spot iconic features like El Lago Azul, a lake with
bright blue water and La Galería Seca, a tunnel with striking rock
Where to stay in Castellón
- Hotel Barra Alta (3 stars): This adult-only hotel is just a few steps from the beach in Peñíscola. The rooms have a simple decor, and many of them offer balconies with sea views. There's also a restaurant on-site serving delicious seafood dishes.
Continue driving along the coast, and you’ll soon reach Valencia. The
city is the birthplace of paella, making it the perfect place to sample
this Spanish dish. Beyond its cuisine, Valencia draws visitors with its
paradisiacal beaches and contemporary architecture. Iconic sites
include the Mercado Central with its modernist features and the
futuristic complex of the City of Arts and Sciences.
Most of the
historical sites are located within the old town, such as the Cathedral
and La Lonja. Valencia is also home to several gardens, which are ideal
for a stroll or a bike ride. If you’re planning to stay a couple of days
in the city, make sure to check our Valencia itinerary.
Places to visit near Valencia
- Sagunto: About half an hour from Valencia, you'll find the charming town of Sagunto. Most people come here to see the Roman sites, like the large theatre dating back to the 1st century. Other highlights include the Moorish castle, the Jewish quarter and the Gothic church of Santa María.
- Port Saplaya: On the way to Valencia, you can stop by Port
Saplaya. This small coastal village stands out with its narrow harbour
lined with colourful houses, earning the nickname of Little Venice.
Where to stay in Valencia
- Hospes Palau de la Mar (5 stars): End your trip with a luxurious stay at this five-star hotel near the Turia Gardens. You can relax by the spa, take a walk through the gardens or enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant.
Barcelona to Valencia Tour Map